50:50 Chance Of Global Temperature Temporarily Reaching 1.5°C Threshold In Next Five Years

wmo climate

There is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level for at least one of the next five years – and the likelihood is increasing with time, according to a new climate update issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The report was prepared by a team of 11 different forecast centers, including the UK’s Meteorological Office, for the WMO on Monday.

The WMO Climate Update said:

There is a 93% likelihood of at least one year between 2022-2026 becoming the warmest on record and dislodging 2016 from the top ranking. The chance of the five-year average for 2022-2026 being higher than the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93%, according to the Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, produced by the UK’s Met Office, the WMO lead centre for such predictions.

The annual update harnesses the expertise of internationally acclaimed climate scientists and the best prediction systems from leading climate centers around the world to produce actionable information for decision-makers.

The chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5°C has risen steadily since 2015, when it was close to zero.  For the years between 2017 and 2021, there was a 10% chance of exceedance. That probability has increased to nearly 50% for the 2022-2026 period.

“This study shows – with a high level of scientific skill – that we are getting measurably closer to temporarily reaching the lower target of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The 1.5°C figure is not some random statistic. It is rather an indicator of the point at which climate impacts will become increasingly harmful for people and indeed the entire planet,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

“For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise. And alongside that, our oceans will continue to become warmer and more acidic, sea ice and glaciers will continue to melt, sea level will continue to rise and our weather will become more extreme. Arctic warming is disproportionately high and what happens in the Arctic affects all of us,” said Prof. Taalas.

The Paris Agreement sets long-term goals to guide all nations to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 °C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 °C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5 °C than at present, but lower than at 2 °C.

Dr Leon Hermanson, of the Met Office led the report. He said: “Our latest climate predictions show that continued global temperature rise will continue, with an even chance that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 will exceed 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. A single year of exceedance above 1.5 °C does not mean we have breached the iconic threshold of the Paris Agreement, but it does reveal that we are edging ever closer to a situation where 1.5 °C could be exceeded for an extended period.”

In 2021, the global average temperature was 1.1 °C above the pre-industrial baseline, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate. The final State of the Global Climate report for 2021 will be released on 18 May.

Back-to-back La Niña events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is only temporary and does not reverse the long-term global warming trend. Any development of an El Niño event would immediately fuel temperatures, as it did in 2016, which is until now the warmest year on record.

The findings of the annual update include:

  • The annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2022 and 2026 is predicted to be between 1.1 °C and 1.7 °C higher than preindustrial levels (the average over the years 1850-1900).
  • The chance of global near-surface temperature exceeding 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels at least one year between 2022 and 2026 is about as likely as not (48%). There is only a small chance (10%) of the five-year mean exceeding this threshold.
  • The chance of at least one year between 2022 and 2026 exceeding the warmest year on record, 2016, is 93%. The chance of the five-year mean for 2022-2026 being higher than the last five years (2017-2021) is also 93%.
  • The Arctic temperature anomaly, compared to the 1991-2020 average, is predicted to be more than three times as large as the global mean anomaly when averaged over the next five northern hemisphere extended winters.
  • There is no signal for the El Niño Southern Oscillation for December-February 2022/23, but the Southern Oscillation index is predicted to be positive in 2022.
  • Predicted precipitation patterns for 2022 compared to the 1991-2020 average suggest an increased chance of drier conditions over southwestern Europe and southwestern North America, and wetter conditions in northern Europe, the Sahel, north-east Brazil, and Australia.
  • Predicted precipitation patterns for the May to September 2022-2026 average, compared to the 1991-2020 average, suggest an increased chance of wetter conditions in the Sahel, northern Europe, Alaska and northern Siberia, and drier conditions over the Amazon.
  • Predicted precipitation patterns for the November to March 2022/23-2026/27 average, compared to the 1991-2020 average, suggest increased precipitation in the tropics and reduced precipitation in the subtropics, consistent with the patterns expected from climate warming.

study released in March in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment concluded that “the remaining carbon budget for limiting anthropogenic warming to 1.5°C, which if current trajectories continue, might be used up in 9.5 years at 67% likelihood.”

In April, the IPCC released another report showing that in order to keep temperatures below the 1.5°C target, global greenhouse gas emissions would need to be reduced 43% from current levels by 2030 and by 84% by 2050. In part, that’s because, once emitted, carbon atoms can remain in the atmosphere for up to 1,000 years.

“We are on a fast track to climate disaster,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said of the report in a statement. “Major cities under water. Unprecedented heat waves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals.”

NASA top climate scientist Gavin Schmidt said the figures in this report are “a little warmer” than what the U.S. NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration use.

“Regardless of what is predicted here, we are very likely to exceed 1.5 degrees C in the next decade or so, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are committed to this in the long term – or that working to reduce further change is not worthwhile,” Schmidt said.

Climate Solutions Could Be Key In Dealing With Poverty, Human Suffering

Another media report said:

The strategies employed to mitigate climate change have implications for “advancing human well-being in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries,” according to new findings.

Noting the economic growth and decline in extreme poverty felt in many low- and middle-income countries, the analysis highlights the work still to be done. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40 per cent of the population still gets by on less than two dollars a day.

It is also widely understood that the worst impacts of climate change will be felt by the lowest-income nations and families.

“The effects of climate change are disproportionately worse and more detrimental to people and communities living in poverty,” Professor Jiaying Zhao of UBC’s Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, told The Weather Network.

“We will see significant human suffering and casualties from climate change in low-income communities,” Zhao added.

All the more reason for climate stakeholders to consider “the nexus between climate mitigation solutions and human well-being.”

The report focuses on five areas of climate solutions, highlighting how these strategies can also address the poverty of regions like Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The first of these climate solutions is to “improve agriculture and agroforestry” through such strategies as restoring abandoned farmland, practicing conservation agriculture, improving rice production and irrigation efficiency, and reducing food waste.

Globally, agriculture accounts for around 15 per cent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, largely through methane and nitrous oxide emissions from livestock and fertilizer. According to the report, employing these strategies could reduce emissions to the equivalent of more than 275 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

The analysis emphasizes that such changes to agriculture would also result in an increase in human well-being, especially for those in low-income countries, noting that “improving agricultural production is a key pathway for eliminating poverty and hunger.”

The report goes on to add that “regions where hunger, poverty, and farming are all prevalent also are the most vulnerable to climate change,” underlining the dual nature of this work.

“We have an opportunity to elevate climate solutions that also boost human well-being and contribute to much-needed socioeconomic development,” said Kristen P. Patterson, director of Drawdown Lift.

“Populations experiencing extreme poverty did not cause the climate crisis. It is incumbent upon decisionmakers to strategically invest in climate solutions that help usher in equity and prosperity,” Patterson added.

The other climate solutions include protecting and restoring ecosystems, adopting clean cooking, providing clean electricity, and fostering equality. Together, the five solutions could reduce emissions equivalent to as much as 700 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

In practice, many of these goals could be pursued in a single project, as in the conservation of Gorongosa National Park, in Mozambique, which aims to conserve the regional ecosystem but also simultaneously to “reduce conflict in the region, and sustainably unlock the park’s economic potential as a driver for human development in nearby communities.”

These strategies would approach the climate crisis from three critical angles, reducing the sources of emissions, protecting carbon sinks like forests and oceans, and generally improving society through health and education.

This last area of focus demonstrates the belief, prominent in the report, that the climate fight and the fight against poverty are largely one and the same.

“In developing countries globally, efforts to promote climate action will undoubtedly be intertwined with aspirations for economic growth,” stated Mohamed Imam Bakarr, a Drawdown Lift Advisory council member.

“This report sheds light on policy options and approaches for harnessing this opportunity to deliver human well-being benefits in the race to net-zero,” Bakarr added.

A 2020 World Bank report further highlighted the link between climate change and poverty, estimating that the climate crisis could force 100 million more people into poverty in just the next ten years.

Zhao agreed, stating, “We will see the worst effects of climate change in the coming decades.”

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